We had the good fortune of connecting with Meghin O’Brien and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Meghin, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
I love making people smile. It’s a lifelong mission of mine- I want to make people happy, even if it’s just for a small moment in time. It’s why I majored in music and performed. It’s why I crochet and create now.
Elements of my life are not happy- they’re really painful. Being able to create something makes my life a little better. So I wanted my crochet creations to be something that brought smiles to others. We have aspects of our lives that can be difficult, to say the least, so moments of levity are very precious.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I crochet small batch collections of amigurumi and crochet decor. I make what I love. If I don’t love what I’m making, it gets frogged. I’ve been focusing on freehand crocheting, which is crocheting items without the use of a pattern. I really wanted to dive into my own imagination and see what I can contribute to the crochet and amigurumi world. I do take notes so I can someday write out patterns for my makes to share with other crocheters. I’m in the process of crocheting a collection of ice cream cones that I hope will bring a little sweetness to our lives and eyeballs.
I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a crocheter. I never thought I’d ever be making amigurumi and have people resonating with them. I also never thought that I would be freehanding and writing notes for my own designs. I’m really grateful to my support system for encouraging me to push through my comfort zone. That push can be so uncomfortable, but it’s been so rewarding to broaden my horizons. It’s opened my eyes to projects that I adore creating and crocheting. It’s also helped me realize that, creatively, I’m more capable than I originally gave myself credit for.
That comfort zone can be hard to break through, especially living with ulcerative colitis and chronic migraines. Often all I want is to make myself feel safe, do something I know and trust, and minimize stressors and triggers in my life in the hopes that I don’t trigger my chronic illnesses. Creating new things and delving into the unknown can be really stressful. It can be a real journey to get to point A, to point B, to point C in the creative and crocheting process. There are certain boundaries that I have to be mindful of when crocheting a collection, whether it’s a new one or an established favorite. I need to be mindful of my physical boundaries, like having arthritis, a common extraintestinal manifestation of my IBD. It can be frustrating because when I’m on a roll I don’t want to rest or stop until it’s all done and I’m satisfied. I’ve come to acknowledge that if I want a healthy, long, and fruitful crochet life, I have to rest and take breaks. Migraines are so annoying, limiting, and painful. I have to be mindful of my screen time, my shoulder and back tension, what I put in my body, blue light levels, sunlight- everything. Having a migraine attack forces me to put everything aside and rest because of my auras manifesting as visual distortions and pain. That’s just prodrome, or the preamble to the main show which is the full blown migraine. There is no cure for IBD and chronic migraines, just treatments. My journey with having chronic illnesses like these is not exactly about overcoming them, but coming to terms with them and coexisting with them.
It’s so important to me that I love what I make and that it shows in the end results. Sometimes I pull from happy memories or associations I have with people in my life. The calamansi in my citrus collection makes me think of some Titas’ and Aunties’ wonderful cooking, big hugs, and lovingly pestering me to get a good level of that vitamin C, especially during colder weather. All the strawberries I’ve made brought me back to when I lived close to a strawberry farm, and memories of going strawberry picking with my friends, my family, especially my aunt and my cousin. I want everything I crochet to have a little whimsy, maybe a little utility, a dash of humor, and a ton of love.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh wow, it’s been a long while since I’ve had to think about going out somewhere and it’s not, like, my doctor’s office! I could see a friend. our husbands, and myself going to brunch at City Tavern after climbing the Culver City Stairs (Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook). I’d definitely be craving the breakfast poutine or smoked salmon hash. At another point, I’d definitely want to grab a bunch of lumpia and lechon kawali from Big Boi Filipino. Chef Barbara’s cooking always makes me a little nostalgic on top of being absolutely delicious. My husband’s favorite is the sisig, and we both really love the adobo, too. Breakfast and a nice filthy chai latte at Undergrind is always so delightful. If you’re in the Culver CIty area, you have to go to Honey’s Kettle for juicy and fantastic fried chicken. The fried fish is also amazing, and the biscuits are the best. Ensenada Surf and Turf is a fun place to get fish tacos, and it’s a little closer to my current home. I hope that when things get a little more under control I can really explore the wonderfulness of my new neighborhood. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shondra Moon- My dearest friend, my first crochet teacher, my chosen family, and basically my sister. Thank you for taking my calls, no matter how frivolous or weird the subject matter becomes. Your constant encouragement and seeing something in me means so much and has saved my life.
Daniel Swanberg- The most amazing husband. Thank you for being my rock and, at times, my carer. You’ve been the kindest, most encouraging man, along with being my best friend. I couldn’t be more grateful and happy to have you in my life.
My Aunties and TItas- You all have strong, beautiful qualities that I have strived to embody my entire life. Thank you for being such wonderful and diverse examples of empowerment, creativity, wisdom, intelligence, fun, ambition, and warmth.